UK expert to help push national organic policy
Guyana on brink of cocoa certification
Stabroek News
February 13, 2002

A United Kingdom (UK) soil specialist is here to examine the national organic agriculture policy and identify the regulations that should be in place to meet the international standards.

The consultant from the Soil Association of the UK, John Myers arrived over the weekend and will be occupied in several areas relating to the development of a viable organic produce sector, Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Satyadeow Sawh, said. Sawh was at the time speaking to reporters on Monday at his Regent and Vlissengen Roads office after welcoming the soil specialist who was accompanied by British High Commissioner, Edward Glover when he paid a courtesy call on him.

Among the areas proposed for examination by Myers, the minister stated, is the evaluation of proposals for diversification in the sector, the examining of potential sites to be used for organic development, standards to be applied and practices associated with the growth of such produce.

The consultant will also be engaged in examining proposals for an acceptable national regulatory framework and proper maintenance of standards in the production of organic produce and government actions and policies that could assist in the development of organic agriculture.

Sawh, briefing reporters on Myers' schedule, stated that the country is hoping to achieve certification to export organic produce to the UK and other lucrative European niche markets.

High Commissioner Glover just back from a trip to the UK and who is instrumental in pushing the organic cause, stated that the country is on the brink of certification for cocoa, which he stated is key for capturing the available markets. Organic cultivation of cocoa is currently being undertaken in Hosororo in the north west and this is seen as the pilot for nurturing other crops. A shipment of organically grown cocoa has already been sent to the UK for processing into chocolates.

While recognising that the demand for such products is on the increase, Glover stated that it is time to look at other options, possibly in the context of fresh fruits.

On that basis he had invited Myers to come and address issues relating to the development of a viable local organic sector.

He is hopeful that by the end of the week Myers would be well acquainted with Guyana's organic sector in order to pronounce on it.

Reiterating that no country gets a second chance, the High Commissioner stated that they are many competitors in the field so the opportunity has to be grasped to ensure that all systems are in place to allow for economic diversification.

He further stated that organic agriculture is a cut-throat business requiring the regular supply of high quality products at the right price. It's not a game for amateurs, Glover added.

Guyana, he further stated, needs to have a clear idea of the type of business environment it is entering so that it could work out what has to be done to meet the demands of supermarkets in the UK and elsewhere.

Director of the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI),

Dr Oudho Homenauth who is responsible for preparing the schedule for Myers, stated that the UK official will be meeting different players and visiting potential areas identified for such production.

Among the areas to be visited by Myers are the West Demerara communities of Canals No. 1 & 2, Uitvlugt and Parika, along with Mainstay and Pomeroon on the Essequibo Coast.

A seminar will also be held at NARI, Mon Repos to examine the requirements necessary for cultivation and certification of organic products. Some of the crops being looked at for organic cultivation, according to Homenauth, are passion fruit, mangoes, avocados, papaws and cashews along with a number of local vegetables. Honey is another product under consideration to be organically produced.

A further briefing is planned for Friday at which time Myers will address issues relating to local organic produce.